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Skylanders Giants - Big fun

Skylanders Giants is another clever fusion of toys and videogames.

Skylanders Giants is another clever fusion of toys and videogames.

A clever fusion of toys and video games, Skylanders has been an enormous success for publisher Activision. Last Christmas it also proved to be a nightmare for parents trying to track down scarce figurines for desperate children, with prices for rare toys selling on eBay for hundreds of dollars each.

In Australia, Activision sold over 110,000 Skylanders starter packs in less than six months, along with over 300,000 toys. Worldwide an astonishing 30 million figures have been snapped up.

The game lets kids "bring their toys to life" by collecting the action figures and then instantly teleporting them into the game by placing them on the "Portal of Power". The game remembers the character's statistics as they become more powerful with in-game experience.

Players can enjoy the game with just the starter characters, but there's a strong incentive to collect more toys as they each have unique abilities and personalities.  Some areas can also only be accessed by specific characters. 

It's easy to be cynical about such a cunning strategy to separate kids from their pocket money, especially when the game is constantly teasing players by showing them characters they probably don't own yet. But both the original Skylanders and this new sequel are cleverly designed, well-written and very engaging games for youngsters. 

Giants offers a new and more entertaining adventure along with 40-plus new figures, including the super-sized giants and characters that light up when placed on the Portal. All figures from the original game are compatible.

Players spend their time exploring colourful environments battling enemies using melee strikes or projectile weapons while solving simple puzzles and collecting items. Kids can play co-operatively with a friend or parent.

The powerful new Giants are able to perform feats of strength like hurling boulders and destroying walls, but players are encouraged to regularly swap characters to make the most of their unique skills.  

Battle arenas offer the chance to combat waves of enemies and earn experience points and new abilities for your characters to assist in the adventure. You can also battle friends and play an enjoyable collectible card game.  

It's a fun package with plenty of replay appeal, but parents should be wary of the cost of kids succumbing to the game's charms and demanding dozens of toys.

What have you been playing lately?

- Jason Hill

twitter Jason Hill is on Twitter: @thatjason

17 comments so far

  • After completing a couple of XCOM playthroughs, I finally installed Borderlands 2 over the weekend. Definitely more of the (appealing) same, the PC version is still an obvious console port (ugh, sales and inventory UI), but still a lot of fun. Also still playing with FTL, tyring to get that elusive Crystal ship, I can never get the final part of the quest to show up before the final battle.

    Date and time
    November 05, 2012, 9:55AM
    • Dark Souls, nothing but Dark Souls. I know what I'd like it call it.

      Eh. Eh.

      My next battle is against that giant moth. At least I'm making it so.

      Date and time
      November 05, 2012, 10:05AM
      • My TV died, so a very light week of gaming for me. Got a new one over the weekend, will be starting up Borderlands 2 as soon as I have a spare 50 hours or so.

        Date and time
        November 05, 2012, 10:23AM
        • Finally finished an FTL playthrough. Had a full crew very early on and got very lucky with some of the weapons recovered from some of the nodes. Such a great little game.

          I have mostly been playing XCOM and loving every minute of it. Still on my first (normal) play through. There's nothing better than your strategy coming together and beating a highly powered alien force... one of my games of the year so far.

          Picked up the brain train game Smart As for the better half. It's a wonderful package; interesting games with superb presentation. The addition of John Cleese certainly gives it bonus points.

          Finally, I've been playing some Assassin's Creed: Liberation. Reviews have been mixed but my 3/4 hours so far have all been positive. It really is a full AC game on the go, with a living New Orleans backdrop. Loving it.

          Date and time
          November 05, 2012, 10:28AM
          • I've been playing a lot of ACIII this weekend. I've played some of the story, but generally I've been having fun hunting and doing the Frontiersman quests. The hunting is good and reminds me a lot of RDR, except it's more fun to air assassinate a hare than to just shoot the poor thing.
            I do have a couple of little niggles though. First off - lockpicking - it's one of my least favourite things of all time in games and I was disappointed to see it introduced here. Surely it's enough to track down all the chests that we don't have to spend time picking locks as well.
            Secondly - and I know it's a very minor thing - while I like the inclusion of the active weather system, I find it a little disappointing that none of the NPC's act any different while it's raining. Not one person ran to get out of the storm. I know that this would be a huge piece of programming to accomplish, but it brought me out of the game a little when it was running around Boston during a violent thunderstorm and everybody around was just carrying on as normal.
            That said, I'm still enjoying the game immensely and can't wait to get home and continue playing

            The Frontier
            Date and time
            November 05, 2012, 10:30AM
            • Not a lot of gaming at the moment. Finished the Dead Nation campaign on the Grim difficulty level. The game is a few years old now but has a really great lighting system and atmosphere still for a twin stick shooter.

              Also spent some time blowing shit up in Panau in Just Cause 2. Only been playing about 5 hours but have ignored most of the story at present and running around getting 100% chaos in any location I come across. 15 locations so far at 100%. Only completed one faction mission which has expanded their influence in one part of one island. This will be one of my long term games I think.

              Also a bit of time in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD on the PS3. Just getting into the bounty hunter missions.

              Date and time
              November 05, 2012, 10:31AM
              • I'm glad my kids haven't jumped on the Skylanders bandwagon, I don't think the wallet could take it.

                I've been playing Driver SF, still a lot of fun doing the challenges and dares. The story missions are all similar challenges and dares but with a twist that makes it interesting.
                Besides that just a bit of Shoot the Apple on the android phone (not a william tell simulator either). It sucked me in good and makes me feel clever even though I think it's designed to feel that way.

                Date and time
                November 05, 2012, 10:36AM
                • Purchased XCOM, and played my trial of Naughty Bear 2 as it downloaded (Thanks DexX!). NB2 left me scratching my head. It's like Hitman in that you have a target to assassinate, most of the characters have stable activity loops until interrupted, and you can take out other bears and steal their costumes. But you're rewarded for doing all sorts of convoluted things and rewarded less for repeating actions, which winds up making for a kind of... mixed up run-through of a level. And replaying levels is strongly encouraged so you can unlock every costume, weapon, item, etc.
                  It's not bad, but NB himself feels sluggish and unwieldy, which can make for some frustrating times.

                  XCOM is, of course, great fun. I didn't work out how to buy interceptors for months and spent the early game avoiding medium and large UFOs, hoping they'd land instead. I also neglected to build satellite uplinks for much longer than I should have, but now I'm poised to claim a whole bunch of new territory and I'm just getting the funds up for new fighter craft.
                  Should keep me busy until Hitman and FC3, no worries.

                  Lucid Fugue
                  Date and time
                  November 05, 2012, 10:52AM
                  • Picked up the Legacy of Rome DLC for Crusader Kings 2 so I could kick some serious butt as Byzantium. Lost all of Anatolia to the Seljuks within 10 years.

                    Looking forward to the Sunset Invasion DLC coming out in a couple of weeks that has a 'what if' scenario of an Aztec Invasion of western Europe. I love that Paradox is a studio that has the remit and independence to go and do crazy stuff like that.

                    Date and time
                    November 05, 2012, 10:58AM
                    • I played a couple hours of Borderlands 2 (azzski's comment on the sales/inventory UI is one of the things that has prevented me from getting into the game any more - it's really clunky and obviously dumbed down for consoles).

                      I started up Dustforce this weekend - the controls are taking a little bit to get used to, but it's a damn fun platformer all the same.

                      Other than that, started replaying I Wanna Be The Boshy (I wanna be the guy fangame) on a higher difficulty, whilst recording my gameplay. Uploading to youtube, with a series of 'death montages', since I intend to show every time I die - has been fun playing around whilst editing in Sony Vegas ^_^

                      Date and time
                      November 05, 2012, 11:00AM

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